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What a Lawyer Can and Cannot Do

Before you call a lawyer, it’s important to be clear in your expectations. A lawyer can do a lot on your behalf, but he also has limitations. 

Here are some of the things your lawyer can do for you:

1. Listen to you

Your lawyer is someone who you can expect to listen. You can absolutely tell your lawyer anything. Actually it’s very important for you to open up to your lawyer and be completely honest. That is a good foundation of a great attorney-client relationship. 

A lawyer should be open minded and non-judgmental so you don’t have to worry about anything. If your lawyer is disrespectful, you can actually file a complaint. Lawyers have a very high ethical responsibility. No lawyer should ever make you feel bad about your case. Of course, what you should talk about should be relevant. Your lawyer may ask questions to steer the conversation to the right direction. However, you don’t have to be careful and curate what you say. Feel free to tell him anything. It’s up to the lawyer to guide you.

2. Give you legal advice

A lawyer is trained to dissect information and issues in order to give you the proper legal advice. Lawyers have the legal knowledge, training, and experience to tell you what is the best course of action to take. You can rely on the competence of a member of the Bar. Lawyers have spent many years studying and training. You can file a complaint against the lawyer if it is proved that he did not exercise due diligence or is grossly incompetent. 

3. Expedite the process

Filing paperwork and all that mumbo-jumbo can be very daunting for a layman. You can actually leave everything up to your lawyer from start to finish. Of course, the client’s participation is inevitable but lawyers have the duty to educate their clients every step of the way. 

4. Represent you

Lawyers can represent their clients inside and outside of court. You can ask your lawyer to sign documents or attend proceedings on your behalf. It’s not just limited to representing you in court. There are many privileges and authorities that could be granted to a lawyer that cannot be given to any other person. You can explore these options. Your lawyer will tell you if it is in your best interest to do so.

5. Hold your property and documents in trust

Yes, your lawyer can take possession of some of your funds, properties, or documents in trust. Rest assured that the lawyer cannot co-mingle nor use any of your funds, properties or documents for whatever purpose other than what you have consented to. Your lawyer can literally be your keeper. Of course, that does not mean that you can just make him keep anything. It must be relevant to his employment.

On the other hand, you can’t expect your lawyer to:

1. Be your psychologist

Your lawyer is not a shrink. He is not trained in psychology or psychiatry. While you can, indeed, tell anything to your lawyer, he or she may try to steer the discussion to the legal issue at hand. It’s best to stay relevant to the legal issue when you are charged by the hour. You see, your lawyer cannot give you recommendations to change your behavior, nor understand anything you are going through. 

If you don’t have a legal problem but just want someone to talk to and help you figure out things, it is best to go to a psychologist. With the psychologist, you don’t need to have a legal issue. You can absolutely talk about anything, even what just happened with your day. A lawyer expects that you come to him with a legal problem. There may be other details you share that is not material to the case, and a lawyer is trained to pick out the relevant facts for your case needed to give you the legal advice you need.

2. Fix all your problems from you

A lawyer can help you with legal issues but he is not a miracle worker. Never treat your lawyer like an errand boy either— he’s not. Again, a lawyer can also only help with legal problems and not other problems.

3. Bend the law

A lawyer cannot bend the law. He can only help within the limits of the law. He cannot make the guilty, not guilty, but he can definitely lessen the charges within the boundaries of law. Do not ask a lawyer to break the rules for you. He is an officer of court. 

4. Divulge your secrets

While a lawyer cannot bend the law, he cannot turn against his clients by divulging their secrets. They cannot turn against their clients. There is absolute confidentiality. Lawyers cannot even privately discuss your case with judges, all the more other people, even the police. 

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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